Pesticide Action Network Workshop in Penang, Malaysia, April 2009
Penang was the site of our next opportunity to spread the word about Permaculture and building soil in the tropics. We were invited to give a talk to the Pesticide Action Network and other sustainablity groups in Penang which is an island just off the coast of the Northwestern part of Malaysia. The event was a one full day talk and then the next day a half day hands-on presentation. The talk consisted of an Introduction to Permaculture slideshow, Soil ecology and Reminerilization lecture, Pattern Understanding: Recognition and Application slideshow, and finally an introduction to Transition Towns.
The hands on portion featured a banana circle demosnstration with plant propagation included. Also it covered worm bin set up and maintenance. Of course we had discussion around permaculture and enjoyed the bounty of the season- Durian. It was a well attended event with around 40 people there for the afternoon event.
Also while in Penang we toured a few chemical farms and organic ones. After visiting a very sad chemical farm we went to another one that wasn’t quite as destroyed but close. There we talked to the farm-hand about banana circle as we observed a freshly planted banana orchard in the very wasteful design of single plants in straight rows. The owner soon showed up and we convinced him to try a new design. He was very receptive and helped us dig and split plants up for planting out. While searching for organic matter, Gautier stumbled upon the neighbors burn pile and told him that we would take the material. So the neighbor came and watched and then gave us a tour of his small rural holding full of plants and animals. It was a successful mission as that same farmer showed up for our hands-on workshop a couple of days later. The best part of all might have been that these two neighbors who had never met were suddenly sharing resources from our interactions. A conversion to organic might not happen but at least the organic matter that they had been burning on the farm while now be recycled. The burning of organic matter is one opf the major paradigm shifts that must happen in this region as well as the stopping of the spraying of the CIDES.